If there was any question about just how much it meant to Magnus Court (EF Education-EasyPost) to step into the polka dot jersey in his home-nation after stage 2 of the Tour de France, one look at the widest of smiles provided the answer.
The Danish rider not only got to step up and accept the climber’s jersey to the roar of an appreciative crowd, but was propelled toward it on the road as he pedalled through a course lined with a wall of people willing him on.
“It’s unbelievable to be riding around out there, especially when I was in the break and people have a bit more time to see you coming and they scream your name," said Cort. "That’s something I have never experienced like that beside and I probably never will.”
One of ten Danes in the field, Cort attacked at the very start of the race, heading off in a break that initially numbered four, as Sven Erik Bystrøm (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert) and the B&B Hotels-KTM duo Pierre Rolland and Cyril Barthe joined the EF Education EasyPost out the front during the 202km stage from Roskilde to Nyborg.
There were three opportunities on Saturday to sweep up points towards the climber’s jersey, with fourth category climbs at 62km, 72.5km and 84km. There was just one point available for the winner of each.
B&B Hotels-KTM were the first to open up the duel for the points, but both Rolland and Barthe were then dropped, leaving Bystrøm and Cort to fight it out at the top. Riding through the shouting fans and Danish flags Cort burst ahead to take the point and the pair rolled on to leave their breakaway companions behind.
Ten kilometres later it was a tight battle for the lead pair who were eyeing each other as they rode to the final corner, and for a moment Bystrøm looked like he was going to leap from behind and take the second point but again the crowd erupted as Cort squeezed past, assuring him the position at the head of the climber’s competition at the end of the stage.
With the jersey already secured, Cort was still determined to make it three from three and the 29-year-old delivered a whole-hearted attack on the final classified climb. That gave himself time to throw his hands up in the air while cresting and then, shouting with glee, he punched the air before signalling thumbs up to the camera.
“It’s unbelievable,” Magnus said. “For sure it helped me a lot, being on Danish roads. I knew it was a really good opportunity for me to get on the Tour de France podium in Denmark and it’s unbelievable that I was there wearing one of the jerseys."
As inspired as Cort was by his day of triumph on home roads –and time being cheered on out the front before drifting back into the peloton at around 50km to go – he’s not convinced it will propel him to a polka-dot clad arrival in Paris.
“For sure I would love to hang on to it for as long as possible, but I also have to be realistic,” he said.
However, he'll get to enjoy wearing the jersey on the Tour's final day in Denmark on Sunday, and as the crowd spots the distinctive polka-dots will no doubt also have one more day of a home crowd screaming out his name.
"For me the biggest and the most important is to get it [the jersey] on Danish soil and then ride in it," said Cort. "That mission is completed, and that’s a really good feeling.”
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Simone joined the team as Production Editor based in Australia at the start of the 2021 season, having previously worked as Australian Editor at Ella CyclingTips and as a correspondent for Reuters and Bloomberg.